Launching a startup is something a bunch of founders set as their New Year’s resolution, Fishburners boss Murray Hurps says.
He knows, because the incubator’s enrolment numbers peak each January.
“14% of our members started their startup in January,” he said. “There’s this burst of motivation where they want to make the next year truly better than the last, and of all things you can do, launching a startup has to be the most potentially impactful.”
Here’s a look at three founders who are at different stages with their startups. The one thing they all have in common is they all launched, or are about to launch, at the start of a year.
The founder who’s been at it for two years
Skater founder Dain Hedgpeth launched his skateboarding app at the start of 2013. It took two years of work to get to the launch stage.
Before Hedgepeth launched Skater he ran another startup for a few years which he said “failed miserably”.
But he didn’t give up. He told Business Insider the one thing he didn’t want to do was get “sucked back into corporate life”.
“Doing things for the first time, it’s never easy, ever,” he said. “It’s relentless. You have to fight for every inch of progress 24/7/365 no matter what else is going on in your life.
“If you manage to go the distance though, purely through elimination you’ll be ahead of 99% of everyone else.”
With that, Hedgepeth launched his app and despite a few bugs which he’s still fixing, he’s built an engaged community and the app has been nominated for best mobile game of the year by IGN.
“It’s exceeded our highest hopes and I couldn’t be more stoked,” he said.
But his New Year startup hasn’t been an easy ride.
“It’s been brutal,” he said. “I saw an opportunity two years ago that I knew would be biting off more than I could chew.
“Indeed, part of the defensibility of the idea revolved around the number of complex pieces which needed to fit together and I knew it would be an uphill battle to make the whole thing come to life.
“Since hitting ‘go’ and deciding to build it I’ve poured every bit of my time, money and energy into it. The last two years I’ve had literally two days off, been working 100 hours weeks all year, lived, breathed and dreamed every aspect of this product.
“No girls, no movies, practically zero contact with friends, and so much of it was outside of my comfort zone too. It’s been heavy but coming out the other side really satisfying to know that nothing was spared and people are loving the end result.”
The founder who’s been at it for 12 months
EasyCompanies founder Alex Whiteside launched early this year with the ambition to improve the company registration process in Australia.
Whiteside launched the startup in January this year. Before he made the jump, Whiteside was a digital marketer at YourShare. He launched his first business, a web hosting service, at the age of 14.
“It was at this point that I caught the startup bug,” he said. “From this point I continued to pursue 5 startups by the age of 24, but the reality was none of them ever made money – it was all a learning experience.
“After numerous discussions with my partner I realised that it would be my New Year’s resolution to launch EasyCompanies.”
His initial 12-month goal for the startup was just to earn the salary he’d been on at YourShare.
“I think this is what any entrepreneur has in their mind when they start out – just earn enough to put food on the table,” he said.
“EasyCompanies is far beyond what I ever imagined, we now have a team of four and have registered well over 5,000 companies. We are on track to have a huge year of growth in 2015 and are launching many new fun and exciting products.
“It would be safe to say we might need our own office soon.”
Hiring staff in the first year of operation was the biggest challenge, Whiteside said.
“There are so many facets of HR that make it such a complicated area of business,” he said. “It’s also a topic that few startups can talk about as they have never experienced it.
“Most startups don’t grow to a point where it is beyond a single or duo founder business – so they’ve never had to hire anyone.
“This challenge is amplified by the fact that startups have a higher risk for the employee (more chance of the company going under or having to downsize). Therefore in a market that already favours candidates, it makes it that much harder to find the right calibre of staff.”
The new founder
This coming year HealthyFoodieBox founder Ping Wang will launch her startup. She’s only just quit her job!
Wang was a technology consultant working for various media, financial and startup businesses.
“I previously worked at Fairfax Media, Insurance Australia Group, Creditcorp and 5th Finger. I have always been passionate about building online businesses having worked on Domain.com.au, Drive.com.au and MyCareer.com.au,” she said.
But it was her 3pm search for snacks which drove her startup hunger. Not being able to find healthy snacks readily available was the inspiration behind HealthyFoodieBox.
“I saw there was an opportunity to provide healthy food to companies, households and individuals,” she said. “I started working on this business on the weekends.
“I decided to resign from my job at the end of November 2014 to work on it full-time.”
Launching the website this week, most of this year has been spent planning and researching.
“The biggest thing I have learnt is that you really need to figure out why you are starting your business,” she said.
In the next 12 months she’s set a target of influencing 10,000 people to eat healthier.
“We will reach them through their workplace, their households and individually,” she said.
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